Deputy Culture Editor - Food & Drink
Making waves in Scottish music
“We’re just three guys fae Killie that started a band because we weren’t any good at football.” The humourous, if not enlightening, words of Fatherson drummer Greg Walkinshaw are a real sign of just how far the Kilmarnock trio have come since their inception, and in a really short space of time too.
The three guys are all sat around a wooden table in the brightly-lit basement of a Glasgow HMV, all with a drink of choice in hand, laughing about some in-band shenanigans. Entering the room is like walking in on a loveable group of supremely close mates.
They’ve got every right to be buoyant, having just released their third full-length album Sum Of All Your Parts to the world. “It’s been like an 18 month, full-time, all-encompassing project getting this album together," says bassist Marc Strain.
“We’ve been in this band for years and years and this is the first time we’ve all sat around and done something together that was really special for all of us in an equal sort of way," adds frontman Ross Leighton.“I guess the album reflects that process – epitomising the last 18 months and things that happened over that period of time." Sure enough, you can hear the more personal, collective-feel to this record. It is engrossing and accomplished across all levels.
Lyrically, the band wanted to hold nothing back, staying completely true to themselves. “It’s about trying to reset yourself and becoming more direct with the things that you wanted to say," Ross says. “There’s definitely like an element of not wanting to piss people off, but sometimes that can’t be achieved. It’s about developing a bit more of a backbone," he elaborates as the group check their phones to find numerous notifications from friends, families and Spotify playlists.
When it came to writing, the band set up a studio in Ibrox for nine months over the last year where they rehearsed daily to get to the crux of creating their third LP. “We would just live demo stuff every day and then go home and listen to it, so we’d actually recorded the album like five times by the end of the process," frontman Ross tells us. Not only was the album meticulously crafted through hard work, they also opted for a completely different approach to the way they wrote and recorded the album as a whole.
As opposed to doing the standard, bit-by-bit multi-tracking recording often opted for in the business these days, they recorded the entirety of the record from start to finish as a live recording. “We as a band are really passionate about albums and listening to albums, and listening to them all the way through," Greg declares.“It made sense to record it and order it live because that’s how we want people to listen to it. It just makes sense for us to do it that way." By no means are they the first to try this method, but to even attempt this approach showcases a band unafraid of both defying popular conventions and staying true to their desires amid all the noise. “There’s like mistakes on the album," he confesses. “There’s mistakes, but it’s part of the live feel. That’s what happens - we are a band and we’re not perfect - that’s what it’s all about really.”
The group were lucky enough to have heavy-weight producer Claudius Mittendorfer as the man behind the desk for their new record – and with the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Muse on his CV, they knew they were in good hands. “He was honestly the perfect person," Mark says. “We couldn’t have done the album without him, he was such a chilled massive influence on what we did on it all. We’ve been a band and best pals for so long that sometimes, when other people come in, it can be an intense environment. But Claudius flew over from New York, we’d never met him face to face and from the first five minutes he was like a best pal. We were all like teary eyed we he left to fly home."
The boys were quick to emphasise their gratefulness for the success of Scottish music that’s helped elevate them into a wider limelight. “It’s as diverse as I’ve ever seen it," Greg tells us. “There’s such a breadth of things going on and it’s more fractured than I think I’ve ever seen it, but all the better for it. There’s so many different bands coming from different places and all doing their own thing - it’s quite inspirational to listen to bands like Young Fathers, Catholic Action or the big guns like CHVRCHES and Biffy as they’re all in such different places, but just doing their own thing. It’s quite an honour to be considered a part of those kinds of bands.” As Ross puts it very well, “everything is just in a good place, it’s a great country.”
The Scottish scene’s current prime state is further elevated by the band’s Scottish fans, who the group claim, and I quote, “are everywhere!” “Earlier on in the band, we were in London to play a show and we didn’t know if anyone was going to come. It was the first headline show we’d ever done and as Ross starts talking to the crowd, they respond with entirely Scottish accents!” Mark jokes.
Clearly, the group are making waves (pun intended), as their progressive recording ideas, ability to attract big-name producers and thriving fan base makes clear. As far as they're concerned, they might just be "three guys fae Killie", but in reality, Sum Of All Your Parts suggests that Fatherson are heading straight for the big time.